Letters to the Editor – Nov. 24, 2010

RE: Multiple campuses create gap in university community (Nov. 17, 2010)

One problem with big research universities is that they are centralized. Such centralization has several problems. Alfred North Whitehead once noted that the secret of the mediocrity of universities is that they deal mainly in second-hand sources. That is, people read books instead of learning about the big world outside of campuses. We must realize that a university experience may be a narrowing one for a person who can raise a family, find a way in the forest, can hunt and trap successfully, as well as succeed in courses. The Nov. 10 article “Multiple Campuses Create Gap in University Community” failed to notice that a variety of campuses may be vital for narrowing the psychological gap found on campuses. In fact, the William Norrie Centre was started many years ago to help bridge the psychological gap that left many aboriginal and immigrant learners in Manitoba with out a place in the university. A major way of extending university education to a diverse population is to decentralize the campus. Let us not narrow people’s perspectives by requiring all to attend at one spot. A good university ought to have campuses all over the province. Let us not be narrowed to Fort Garry.

Barry Hammond

Dear President Barnard,

I am very disturbed to read about the University actions concerning the waiving of requirements for a PhD in mathematics. I realize that I have not heard the university side of this controversy, but the uncontested facts in the media seem to be quite damming. While I certainly agree with making accommodations for people with disabilities, the waiving of requirements altogether is not what I would consider to be an accommodation. The actions of Jay Doering, dean of science, seem to be inappropriate and a subversion of proper process in, for example, overriding the mathematics graduate committee and waiving requirements for the PhD degree. The suspension of Prof. Gábor Lukács without pay for three months seems to be an abuse of power and a clear attempt to intimidate him.

When I was chairman of various mathematics graduate committees there were also abuses of power over which I had no control, and almost all of these resulted in bad outcomes (including the suicide of a graduate student). The best way forward for the university is to support high standards and to support professors who support high standards, instead of playing some weird kind of “political correctness” game.

Peter Aitchison
Senior scholar
Retired professor of mathematics
Member of the Manitoba Order of the Buffalo Hunt